HP engineers vote to strike

Members of the Unite union at HP will take industrial action over the potential loss of pension benefits and pay reductions

HP engineers in the Unite union have voted to go on strike over the potential loss of pension benefits and pay reductions. The timing and duration of the strike have yet to be decided.

Unite announced the decision to strike on Thursday. The union said in a statement that engineers were angry at the prospect of job transfers from HP to subsidiary company HP CDS, and said the transfers would be accompanied by the loss of benefits, including final salary pension and a performance bonus scheme worth up to £2,000.

Seventy-seven percent of Unite members at HP voted for all-out strike action, while 85 percent voted for some form of industrial action. Unite said these percentages demonstrate "the strength and depth of feeling amongst Unite members" at HP.

"This is likely to be the first of more industrial action in HP, unless the company rethinks its policy of attacking the terms and conditions of its workforce as a sacrificial offering on the altar of stock exchange driven short term financial targets aimed at primarily enriching its senior executives," said Peter Skyte, Unite national officer for IT and communications, in the statement.

Unite announced at the end of October that it was balloting 150 HP engineers to gauge their willingness to strike. At the time, Skyte said that any strike could have a major impact on HP systems.

A former HP engineer, who wished to remain anonymous, told ZDNet UK at the end of October that HP customers could be severely affected by a strike as there would be potential maintenance disruptions. HP has contracts with large corporations to provide systems and services. HP services are also resold by large IT companies.

However, HP told ZDNet UK on Thursday that there would be no disruption to customers' systems.

"In the event of any local industrial action, we would not expect any interference in service," said an HP spokesperson in an email statement. "In co-operation with our clients and the involvement of our company-wide global delivery capabilities, we will take the necessary measures to deliver the services that our clients require."

HP added that it would enter into a dialogue with the union in an attempt to avoid further industrial action.

"The company respects the decision of the 98 employees that have voted in favour of local industrial action," said the statement. "We will continue to maintain a dialogue with the union in an attempt to avoid any form of action."

Meanwhile, HP workers in the public sector will vote on whether to strike at the Department of Work and Pensions in a ballot that will run until 30 November.